The Floor Plan: Does it Reveal a Temple with a Human Form?
The greatest secret of King Solomon's temple is that it may have been constructed in the hidden form of a human body. Its architectural floor plan, in conjunction with the arrangement of its furnishings, reveals a “Temple Man” composed of three biblical figures: the Levitical High Priest, Jacob and a "Metallic Messiah." All three appear in a single composition, with one figure imposed atop the other. The measurements and description of the Temple (Heb., ha mikdash) are given in the Tanach (Old Testament) in I Kgs 6:1-35, and II Chr. 3:1-17, which is still our best source of information about this ancient (circa 950 BC) structure. Based primarily on these verses, various Jewish, Christian and secular reference works depict the holy house as a rectangular building with a triple-tiered row of cells wrapping around three of its sides: north, south and west, and with the entrance (but no cells), toward the east. See two drawings on this page. It should not be confused with the Second Temple built by King Herod about 20 BC and destroyed by the Romans in AD 70.
Importance of Tabnit, the ‘Plan’
The key to the Temple’s (or Mishkan’s, i.e, tabernacle’s) secrets is in the (floor) plan and layout of its furnishings. The “plan” or “pattern” (Heb., tabnit) of the structures and their furniture is mentioned I Chr. 28:11, 12,18,19 and Ex. 25:9, 39, 40. Tabnit is also translated as design, structure, figure, form, likeness, and shape. The Mishkan was the precursor of the Temple. Thus, in Dt. 4:16-18 the Israelites are forbidden making any likeness, form, or figure of a human or beast for worship. In Ezk. 8:10 the prophet sees repulsive forms or figures of creeping beasts, however in 8:3 he is lifted up by the form or figure of God’s hand, or an angel’s (see also 10:8). In Ps. 144:12 sons and daughters are compared to choice cut stones giving shape or form to a palace (see the Jewish Publication Society’s Tanakh.
Tabnit generally refers to the form of something. King David received Divine inspiration for the form, i.e., plan or pattern of the Temple. And before him, at Sinai, Moses heard God’s verbal instructions for the form of the Mishkan,Tabnit is related to banah which means to build a structure or house –– or to raise children, since a “house” may also refer to a family. Thus, in Ru. 4:11 Rachel and Leah, the two wives of Jacob (later renamed Israel), are called the “builders” of the House of Israel. This is how tabnit directly and indirectly relates to buildings, ordinary houses, the House of God (i.e., the Temple), and humans –– and their structure, form or figure.
The High Priest as Temple Man
The picture above is the Temple Floor Plan from the previous page now trans-formed into a figure of the Levite High Priest. Within the figure are 13 bold numbers which are briefly explained below. All are in sequence except for nine (9).
1. TREASURE ROOMS, PRIESTS’ CELLS, west side – Gold and silver bullion was kept in the Temple (I Kgs. 7:51 ) possibly in its western cells. These form the High Priest’s turban (Heb., misnepet). The common priest’s cap was more globular, like an inverted cup.
9. PRIESTS’ CELLS, south and north sides – These form the arms. Only one entrance is named (I Kgs. 6:8) but Ezk. 41:11 includes a second.The entrances correspond to the onyx stones the High Priest wore on his left and right shoulders. Each was engraved with the names of six Israelite tribes, twelve names total, Ex. 28:9 -12.
2. TWO LARGE STARS – These are two10-cubit tall cherubs of goldplated olive wood (I Kgs. 6:23), they form Temple Man’s eyes.
3. THE ARK of the Covenant – This was a goldplated chest with a solid gold lid topped by two small cherubs (small stars).The chest is his nose. Its poles were attached to its long sides rather than its short ones. They were drawn forward, I Kgs. 8:8, after the Ark was installed in the Holy of Holies and depict extended nostrils.
4. STAIRWAY – A short staircase led from the Holy Place to a slightly elevated Holy of Holies.The stairway is his neck/throat.
5. INCENSE ALTAR – This small goldplated altar (I Kgs. 6:22) is the heart. Its sweet-smelling smoke depicts prayer and the spiritual life.
6. TABLES OF THE SHOWBREAD – On these goldplated tables (I Kgs. 7:48) were bread and wine, symbolizing flesh and blood, i.e., the humanity of national Israel, the High Priest, and the Messiah.
7. THE LAMPS – These (II Chr. 4:7) provided light while portraying a Tree of Life. Their seven flames each stand for the seven days of Creation Week and also the seventy nations of the world. Light may symbolize divine knowledge and the spirit of God.
8. THE PORCH – This antechamber, the ulam, (I Kgs. 6:3, II Chr. 3:4) corresponds to the human pelvis (hips) and depicts procreation, or more specifically, birthing (parturition), because this is the area of the genital organs.
10, TEN LAVERS – Five bronze lavers were on the north and five on the south near the Porch. These signify the ten fingers of the hands. They were for washing off any residue of blood in the sacrificial meats (I Kgs. 7:38; II Chr. 4:6). They were mounted on wheeled carts and each laver held 40 baths of water.
11. JACHIN, BOAZ – These large bronze pillars by the Porch were named Jachin and Boaz (II Chr.3:17) and are the Temple Man’s legs, Viewed standing, they portray two plants or trees and also the two kings, David and Solomon.
12. SEA OF BRONZE, TWELVE BULLS – This huge laver held 2000 or 3000 baths of water and was for the priests to wash their hands and feet (II Chr. 4:2). The laver depicts the basin of the Red Sea. Water too may depict God’s spirit and knowledge but also conception, and union (devekut) with him. The twelve bulls (v.4) are the twelve tribes of Israel.
13. THE SACRIFICIAL ALTAR – This (II Chr. 4:1) is the Temple Man’s feet, and also a king’s square footstool. The Altar signifies election/separation, war and conquest (victory), atonement for sin, and national Israel’s marriage to the Lord.
Garments of White Outside, Gold Inside
The exterior of Solomon's temple, like the Second Temple built by Herod centuries later, was made of the brightest white limestone blocks. Their color corresponds to the High Priest's "Garments of White" worn on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. On the remaining days of the year, however, he wore the "Garments of Gold" and these correspond to the Temple’s gold interior. In his book, Temples and Temple Service in Ancient Israel (1985), pp. 169- 171, Professor Menahem Haran of the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, provides some details of how the furnishings of the Mishkan (Tabernacle) correspond to the garments of the High Priest. Some Christian scholars have noted this too. Ezekiel 16:10 - 14 portrays national Israel as a woman (wife of God) dressed in the furnishings of the Tabernacle which gradually transforms into theTemple (v.14).
Jacob’s Dream and the Temple
Jewish tradition tells us that Jacob (forefather of the twelve tribes) saw the Temple in advance in his dream at Bethel. After seeing angels ascending and descending on a stairway, he says in Genesis 28:17, "This is none other than the
house of God ...," and in v. 19 renames the place Beth-El, House of God, which is a frequent biblical designation for the Temple. As shown below, Jacob's raised head corresponds to an elevated Holy of Holies and his ‘pillow stone’ (v. 11) to the Even Shetiyah or "Foundation Stone" where Abraham had earlier bound Isaac (22:9 -11). In other words, as he slept – unbeknownst to him – his head and body prophetically became a model for the Temple which was built atop Mt. Moriah. Today this site is called Haram al-Sharif by the Arabs, and theTemple Mount by Jews and others.
Jacob Builds the Temple?
Why was Jacob given the dream at this time? Because, although he was fleeing the wrath of his brother Esau, he was also on his way to Mesopotamia to find a wife and create a family, i.e., a “house,” as explained before. Isaac practically ordered him to leave and start his own family (Gen. 28: 1, 2), he is told to go multiply and become an “assembly of peoples,” v. 3. His two wives are later called the “builders” of the House of Israel (Ru. 4:11). Jacob, therefore, built a human temple, a house of twelve tribes, and centuries later those twelve, with the aid of the Phoenicians, built Solomon’s stone temple which was called the ‘House of God’. Hence, the dream concerns the building of these two houses.
The Amazing Metallic Messiah
The illustration on the right shows how the metals of the Temple’s interior relate to the High Priest’s outer ‘garments of gold’ and reveal the Metallic Messiah (heavenly
ruler). How do we know the metals have this secondary meaning? Because their type and order reflect those of King Nebuchadnezzar’s metal statue, below, which itself symbolizes an unholy, secular world ruler.
For the interior goldplating of theTemple’s Holy of Holies, Holy Place and Porch, see I Kgs. 6:20 - 22 and II Chr. 3:4 -10. For the bronze furniture outside see I Kgs. 7:15 - 27, 38 and II Chr. 4:1 -12.This gives the Metallic Messiah a head, torso and pelvis of gold, but hands, legs and feet of bronze. His silver shoulders and arms correlate with the silver plated cells (‘houses’) of I Chr. 29:3 - 5.
However, we remove the silver plated cells which form the turban (see at right) because we are viewing a nude man who is the counterpart of another nude figure, King
Nebuchadnezzar’s metallic statue, below. Hence, we compare one nude figure with another, not a clothed one with a nude one. Also excluded is the Sea of Bronze
because it is not part of the natural human anatomy.
Nebuchadnezzar’s Metal Statue - The account of this huge metal statue which King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon saw in a dream is found in chapter 2:1 - 35 of the
Book of Daniel, but our focus is primarily on vv. 31 - 33.
This statue, v. 31, of four metals has a head of gold, arms and chest of silver, belly and thighs of bronze, v. 32, legs of iron, v. 33, and feet of iron fused with baked clay, v. 33. The clay counts as one with the iron, so this man is made of four metals. However, Temple Man, i.e. the Metallic Messiah, consists of only three metals: gold, silver and bronze. These same three were also in the Mishkan (tabernacle), Exodus 25:3, 31:4; 35:5. But the four metals depict four successive world empires, standing for Man’s ungodly earthly rule until the last days. Hence, as Man’s rule is summed in one man of metal, so too God’s forthcoming reign is portrayed in a single Metallic Messiah figure.
‘Messiah’ is a transliteration of mashiach, which means the anointed or anointed one. A Jewish king was ‘anointed’ by having olive oil – symbolizing illumination – poured on his head so that he might know how to rule his people. But Metallic Messiah (the Messiah) is anointed with God’s spirit and rules worldwide from the Jerusalem Temple Mount.
The Mishkan (Tabernacle): Did it Have a Hidden Human Form?
Various writers have attempted finding a human figure in the Mishkan (tabernacle) built by Moses when the people received the Law at Sinai. Christians think they see Jesus in its furnishings and Jews a kabalistic Adam Kadmon in its floor plan.Is there a hidden human figure in it? Yes and No. What the floor plan reveals, rather, is half a man. An argument for the full figure of a man – no matter what some writers claim – cannot be convincingly made from its furnishings or floor plan. Only by examining the structure in retrospect – from the viewpoint of Solomon’s temple – can such a figure perhaps be seen, and even then it is only a partial one. There is no complete Mishkan Man there, too many body parts missing. No eyes, hands, pelvis, legs, etc.
Priestly Cells and Silver Socket
The Mishkan had only two main rooms instead of three, the Holy of Holies and Holy Place. No Porch. Its two rooms were half the size of the Temple’s and one third its height. Everything in it was portable, including its foundation which was made of 100 silver ‘sockets’ and 5 bronze ones. The sockets were heavy metallic blocks with holes which held the Mishkan’s frame, i.e. its walls, upright (Fig. D). It is the sockets’ layout, figures A, B, and C, that reveals a partial man.
Figure A shows the Mishkan's floor plan of one hundred silver sockets and five bronze ones; Figure B, the outline of a man's head, torso, shoulders, and arms; and figure C merely makes the partial man more evident by addition of peforated line.
The layout of the silver sockets is given in Exodus 26:19 - 36, and that of the bronze ones and their number (5) in v. 37. The number of silver sockets (100) is in 38:27. In 26:31 - 33 the curtain or veil which separated Holy of Holies from the Holy Place is mentioned (see v. 33) and we are told that this special curtain (paroket, meaning separatrix, the feminine of separator) was suspended by four goldplated pillars (i.e., posts or beams of acacia wood) which were inserted into four sockets of silver. These four sockets form the shoulders of Mishkan Man, figure C, above. But note this: there was no silver inside Holy of Holies or Holy Place of the Temple, only goldplated or solid gold objects were permitted in these two rooms which had goldplated walls.
However, silver appears to be inside the Temple’s Holy Place when the priestly cells are arranged to form the arms and shoulders of Temple Man, and this is a clear indicator that the cells, some of which were store rooms, correspond to the silver sockets of the Mishkan, which itself had no cells at all. The cells also formed Temple Man’s turban.The 100 silver sockets of the Mishkan and the 90 silver plated cells of the Temple relate to the ages of Abraham and Sarah when they had Isaac, but silver by itself relates to the priesthood and the sacrifices.
The Sexual Symbolism of the Temple
For certain, Solomon’s temple displays sexual symbolism in quite specific ways, but not in the manner Bible scholars imagine. According to them, the twelve oxen which supported the enormous Sea of Bronze were fertility bulls, and the two bronze pillars, Jacob and Boaz, were phalli (male sex organs). They have been saying this for decades, and while they are partially right – there is sexual symbolism involved – they are also wrong in major ways.
It might be asked, why would the Temple involve sex? – and the short answer is 1) because it displays a definite Edenic theme in its decorations and architecture and 2) Eden itself was a place of fertility, displaying the Creator’s powers to produce all types of life in abundance and 3) the land of Israel, ‘the Promised Land,’ is biblically presented as a new Eden, and finally and most important of all, 4) the Divine plan for mankind’s spiritual redemption is portrayed through the human birthing process. And since creating children involves sex, the Temple depicts human sexuality.
I do not intend explaining the above points, they are meant only as a broad answer, although I do have specifics in mind.The four deal with the question of why, Let us see how this is so. Forget notions of fertility rites and sacred prostitutes in pagan temples. The Temple design (see Ezk. 43:10, 11) includes human procreation, true, but as an analogy of redemption instigated by teshuvah, which means repentance and return. It is a clever and covert analogy in stone whose revelation was reserved for our time, I believe.
A Biblical Puzzle
Temple students have known for ages that there are some features of the Temple’s description that appear contradictory or at least puzzling, and perhaps the most well known of these concerns the height of the Porch (ulam): was it 30 or 120 cubits high? To appreciate this puzzle and how it relates to the Temple’s symbolism, compare the two temples at the right. The First is King Solomon’s (circa 950 BC), and the Second (circa 20 BC – AD 70) is King Herod’s. Herod was an Idumean (Edomite) and a descendant of slaves, not Jewish by blood.
Note that the Second Temple has a much wider front than the First, making its rooftop appear like an inverted letter T. This is because two chambers of knives were added to the Porch’s interior, one chamber on left and another on the right,This turned the Second Temple into Ariel, the “lion of God,” wide at the front, narrow at the back, so Jewish sources say. The two temples were about the same size, it seems, except for their height. Here and at other points the Second Temple deviated significantly from the inspired architectural plan given King David and passed on to his son Solomon. The interior of Solomon’s temple was only 30 cubits high, Herod’s 30-40, but with a 90 cubit Porch, a huge difference. But from the exterior Solomon’s may have been 40 cubits tall (the Bible does not give exterior measures) and Herod’s 40-50 with an 100 cubit Porch. Why this large difference in height between the two temples? – and is there any biblical authority for it?
King Herod’s 100 Cubit Porch
In a book whose title or author I no longer recall, except that it was written by a Jewish woman, it is said or implied that Herod set out to outdo Solomon. The First Temple was too short, he would build a taller one, and the biblical justification for it was II Chr. 3:4 where a height of 120 cubits is given for the Porch. This verse has given scholars headaches because it cannot be easily reconciled with I Kgs 6:2 where height of the holy “house” (Holy of Holies and Holy Place combined) is recorded as 30 cubits. While it is true that the height of the Porch (ulam) is never specifically given, an 120-cubit height for any room is nowhere recorded either in the Book of I Kings. Only II Chronicles 3:4 (probably written by Ezra the prophet) contains this odd measurement. Here is how scholars treat it:
1) The verse is simply ignored – the most popular way of “explaining” Bible difficulties!
2) The chronicler was exaggerating the Porch’s height in order to inflate the Jewish national ego.
3) Some scribal error occurred. A scribe intended writing 20 cubits but wrote 120 instead.
4) Maybe the Porch was truly 120 cubits high, after all.
The first two points do not merit any commentary. As for point three, most Bibles, whether distributed by Jewish or Christian publishing houses, retain the Masoretic text with its 120 cubit height for the Porch. However, not too long ago the New International Version broke with this practice and now gives the height as 20 cubits.
Its footnote informs us that some Syriac and Septuagint manuscripts contain this smaller number. This, of course, would make the Porch shorter than the remainder of the Temple building. Pertaining to the last point (4), various scholars dismiss an 120 cubit Porch saying that a.) the Porch is nowhere called a tower, but ulam, which is always translated as porch, portico, hall or vestibule, and b.) a Porch this high would probably be unsafe in a strong wind because of its narrow base. But Herod avoided this problem by adding 30 cubits of height (dead space) to the rest of the building, thus bracing the 90 cubit Porch. Is point three (3) adopted by the NIV Bible the most logical one, then? I think not.
Drawing at right: Herod raised a whole new temple and added 60 cubits of mostly dead
space to the Porch’s 30 cubit tall interior. But outside the Porch was 100 cubits high: 30+60+10= 100 (the 10 includes 4 cubits for a parapet wall on the roof and 6 more for the foundation). In this manner Herod dwarfed Solomon’s Temple, but he did not necessarily build a better one.
Solving the Puzzle
Drawing at left: this shows what Solomon’s temple would look like with a height of 30 cubits (I Kgs 6:2) and a Porch of 120 (II Chr, 3:4), not very visually appealing. No ancient or modern architect would want to claim such a miscreation, the Porch is four times the height of the building!
Herod did not outdo Solomon with a taller building, however, because in constructing it, the Temple’s hidden and Divinely inspired anthropomorphic elements were erased. Jacob and Adam, the High Priest, or the Metallic Messiah cannot be found in Herod’s uninspired architectural manipulations. Bigger is not always better and this is one example. Yet, amazingly, the rabbis of his time – and even today – seemed to admire the Second Temple more than the First!
The solution concerning height lies in the Temple’s symbolism of fertility. And to portray this fertility it was created at a miniature Garden of Eden, while at the same time depicting key events in Israel’s history. In this way the Temple had a universal aspect (Eden) and also a particular one (Israel). It was constructed on Jewish soil, yet it was to be a “house of prayer for all nations” (Isa. 56:7). Even Jesus recognizes this universal theme in Mark 11:17. And in Isa. 2:2-4 the prophet
links the house of God (the Temple) with the name Jacob and a reference to all nations.
Therefore it should be no surprise that Adam’s “deep sleep” while Eve was being created (Gen. 2:21, 22) corresponds to Jacob’s sleep at Bethel. Jacob is the “Adam” of the Jews. Adam was a father of the world, Jacob the father of the Israelites. Jacob was fleeing his brother’s wrath when he left for Mesopotamia, but he also had a second motive: to find a wife and start a family. And in the dream, the Lord assures him that he will have descendants whose number will be like the “dust of the earth,” (28:14). In similar manner, Adam is given a wife so that he could be “fruitful and multiply, fill the earth” (1:28). Consequently for both men – one in the Garden and the other at Bethel – their sleep is associated with their wives and raising a family, ‘building a house’. Adam builds the world; Jacob, national Israel, which is part of the world too. And all of this involves fertility, so we might say both men
Yet there is a spiritual aspect to it all, which is namely this: they were to produce children in God’s “image and likeness,” which means his inward character, having his attributes. Otherwise the world and/or Israel becomes corrupt and unredeemable, even by the Law.
The Solution and its Meaning
The 120 cubit Porch is the male genital organ, here symbolizing procreation. The Temple’s entrance, which had no doors, is the woman’s birth canal. Temple Man’s genitalia is androgynous depicting both genders. The figure of 120 signifies Jacob’s 12 tribes enlarged (10 x 12 = 120).
The whole Temple displays the human birth process as an analogy to spiritual redemption, which itself signifies being renewed or reborn. But the birth process is somewhat reversed: one’s sins are atoned for at the Altar, his spirit is united with
God’s at the Bronze Sea (this is conception or devekut, union with, or cleaving to God), then as one passes through the Porch he or she is born into – not out of – Temple Man’s body.
But lay Israelites never entered the Temple. Instead, the Levite priests portrayed this process for them. In this way each Israelite signified their becoming a kingdom of priests, Ex. 19:6. This topic is related to the ‘sin offering,’ korban chatet for atonement, but I cannot use space explain it here; the details are explained and illustrated with graphics in my unfinished manuscript. Hence, the 120 cubits symbolize Israel’s priestly birthing and increase, but the 30 cubits are quite literal and apply to the height of the whole building, Porch included.
The Sexual Symbolism of Jachin and Boaz
While the twin bronze pillars named Jachin and Boaz are not phallic symbols as some Bible scholars have claimed for decades, they do play a sexual role according to the symbolism of the Temple. Also, according to their description in I Kgs. 7:15-22 they were not “fire altars,” as claimed in some Christian sources. Therefore, we may put aside this age-old notion made popular by Robert Smith and W.F. Albright. Maybe the pillars’ glossy capitals did catch the “first glint of the Jerusalem sunrise” but they still were not cressets, fire altars, or giant torches lighting up the night, nor were their bowl shaped capitals ever filled with burning oil. The pillars, rather, portrayed two trees or plants.
The drawing at left: Jachin and Boaz depicted two identical large plants. The plant was a hybrid creation whose capital symbolized a giant water lily and its shaft or stem, the trunk of a palm tree. The lily had a metallic netting or network upon which were suspended decorative pomegranates (7:20, 42). Some sources say that the Hebrew wording implies two bowls for each pillar (Tanach, Stone Edition, p.818). If so, the lower bowl was inverted, representing the drooping leaves of a palm tree, but the top bowl which is a lily cup was upright, as shown at left. The lily was the love flower of the Ancient Near East and in this instance symbolizes God’s love for David and Solomon, the two kings who had the most to do with founding and establishing Israel as a kingdom and planning for and constructing the Temple. David means “beloved” and Solomon’s second name Jedidiah (II Sam. 12:24, 25) “beloved of God.” Palm trees depict peace and prosperity, the mark of King Solomon’s reign.
But if the lily cup symbolizes love, exactly how does this make Jachin and Boaz sex symbols? Observe above (Temple Man lying down) that the Porch is the male organ and that the capitals seem attached to it. Furthermore, they are high up on his legs. What else can the capitals be except his gonads or testes! This why they had a netting or network (I kgs 7:41) and pomegranates wrapped around them. The netting is the rough, textured skin of the scrotum, while the pomegranates copious seeds depict male sperm. Surely this signifies national Israel enlarged, something yet to transpire in the Messianic Age ahead of us when she becomes exceedingly fertile ‘like the Garden of Eden,’ Ezekiel 36:35.
The Floor Plan: Does it Reveal a Temple with a Human Form?